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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

WHAT MASSACRE?

LDP, DPJ ranks hear Nanjing denial lecture


Staff writer

About 30 lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan gathered Tuesday to hear a controversial historian talk about why he figures the Nanjing Massacre is a "complete fabrication."

At the second of a three-part lecture series held in a building housing lawmakers' offices across from the Diet building, Shudo Higashinakano, a history professor at Asia University in Tokyo, told the small group that the Nanjing Massacre was simply Chinese government propaganda.

"I've investigated many materials and come to the conclusion that a massacre never took place," Higashinakano claimed.

The professor was invited by a group of 16 lawmakers who already agree with him, including Toru Toida and Tomomi Inada of the LDP, and Jin Matsubara and Shu Watanabe of the DPJ, the main opposition force.

Higashinakano is a well-known public figure. Last year the Nanjing City Intermediate People's Court ordered him and another historian to pay 23 million yen in compensation to a Chinese woman for alleging in a publication that she had lied about having witnessed the massacre. Historians worldwide generally agree that the Imperial Japanese Army killed at least 150,000 civilians and raped thousands of women and girls during its occupation of the former capital of China in 1937 and 1938.

Higashinakano bases his claim on reports that the population of Nanjing, about 200,000, did not decline between 1937 and 1938.

Higashinakano told the group there was no organized rape or murder, and individual soldiers caught raping women were severely punished by their superiors.

"There might have been individual cases of stealing and rape, but the incidents were far from what the word 'massacre' implies," Higashinakano said. He said any reports of mass murder of civilians were legitimate executions of Chinese soldiers by the Japanese.

The group applauded Higashinakano at the end of his 90-minute talk and Matsubara said, "I'm convinced now that the Nanjing Massacre never took place."

The first lecture, last month, contested the content in the "Rape of Nanking" by the late American journalist Iris Chang. The last lecture, March 13, will be on what historians who don't believe the massacre took place think actually happened during Japan's occupation of the region.

According to the organizer, the lectures are to counter several films being made outside of Japan and will be released this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre.

The 10 films being prepared are based on wrong information and are hateful toward Japan, Higashinakano charged.

Despite his claims, there was a wealth of Western press photos and correspondence coming from Nanjing at the time detailing the atrocities, as well as diplomatic correspondence, including from Germans, whose nation at the time had yet to add Japan to the Axis powers. Some of the items were later used in the Tokyo war crimes tribunal.



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The Japan Times

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